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NATO: U.S. Says Consensus On New Members Closer

Washington, 4 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior U.S. official says NATO members are getting closer to reaching a consensus on the countries they will invite to join the alliance at next week's summit in Madrid.

A senior Defense Department official told reporters yesterday that when the heads of state get to Madrid they will be able to arrive at a consensus fairly quickly.

The U.S. is currently at odds with most of its European allies, particularly France, who want to include Romania and Slovenia in the first round of NATO expansion in addition to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday there is no consensus yet, but he said discussions with the French and others are continuing and will continue over the weekend.

He said the U.S. is working very hard and is confident there will be full agreement with the U.S. position in Madrid.